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Abercrombie announces more Cabinet appointees


Gov. Neil Abercrombie has appointed more key Cabinet members to the Abercrombie Administration.

“All members of the Abercrombie Administration are already working hard toward implementing our vision of a New Day in Hawaii,” Abercrombie said. “We are making great progress in completing our team of successful and capable leaders who are ready to work together and come up with solutions for the challenges facing Hawaii.”

The appointments

* Department of Accounting and General Services: Ryan Okahara as Deputy Director

* Department of Defense: Maj. Gen. Darryll Wong as Adjutant General; Brig. Gen. Joe Kim as Deputy Adjutant General

* Department of Human Services: Pankaj Bhanot as Deputy Director

* Department of Transportation: Glenn Okimoto as Director; Randy Grune as Deputy Director for Harbors; Ford Fuchigami as Deputy Director for Airports; Jadine Urasaki as Deputy Director for Capital Improvements Projects

* Consumer Advocate: Jeffrey T. Ono

* Insurance Commissioner: Gordon Ito

* Office of Community Services: Mila Kaahanui as Director

The department directors will have to be confirmed by the state Senate. Abercrombie has announced directors for all but two departments, the Attorney General and Health. Abercrombie has announced 12 deputy directors.

About the appointees

Ryan Okahara (DAGS Deputy) has 20 years of management experience in the private sector and military. He most recently served as Vice President of Organizational Development at First Insurance Company of Hawaii. He previously worked at Hawaiian Electric Company and Pihana Pacific, a Hawaii based technology start-up.

Okahara is also a member of the Hawaii Air National Guard and currently serves as the Commander of the 154th Mission Support Group.

Okahara, 42, was born and raised in Honolulu. He graduated from Moanalua High School, received his bachelor’s degree in Math and Physics from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and his master’s in management and human resources development from Webster University.

Maj. Gen. Darryll Wong (Adjutant General) is Chief of Staff of Hawaii Air National Guard and also serves as Commander, Hawaii Air National Guard, Hickam Air Force Base. As Commander, he is responsible for developing the Hawaii Air National Guard’s strategic and contingency operational plans.

Wong, 60, joined the Hawaii Air National Guard in November 1984 as a Flight Line Maintenance Officer. While on active duty, he flew C-141’s during the final years of the Vietnam War, the closing of United States bases in Thailand, and the baby and refugee airlift as a member of the 53rd Military Airlift Squadron, Norton Air Force Base, and California.

Wong received his commission as a distinguished graduate from UH’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Program. He also received his master’s of business administration from UH-Manoa.

Brigadier Gen. Joe Kim (Deputy Adjutant General) has over 28 years of military service, including 11 years of active service. He has deployed worldwide in support of operations from Desert Storm to Operation Iraqi Freedom, built a flying squadron, commanded at squadron and group levels and now commands the Air National Guard’s most diverse flying Wing.

Kim, 50, received his bachelor’s of science degree in engineering mechanics from the U.S. Air Force Academy and his master’s of business administration from the University of Seattle.

Pankaj Bhanot (DHS Deputy Director) is the Division Administrator of the Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division of the state Department of Human Services (DHS). Prior to joining DHS, Bhanot served as the Family Development Director of the Kauai Economic Opportunity, Inc. (KEO), a non-profit agency on the island of Kauai.

Bhanot, 45, was born and raised in India and came to the United States in 1990 and has called Hawaii home since 1992. He received his bachelor’s in political science and law degree from the University of Delhi, India; received master’s in law from the Cornell University School of Law; and conducted four years of post-graduate research on the rights of migrant workers and their families in international law at the University of Nottingham School of Law, Nottingham, England.

Glenn Okimoto (DOT Director) is the Budget Director of the University of Hawaii System. Dr. Okimoto, 57, has extensive experience in state government, including in the Department of Transportation as the Airports Administrator and Harbors Administrator; and in the Department of Accounting and General Services as State Comptroller. From 1994 to 2001, Okimoto served as Deputy Director for the state Transportation Department for the Administration Division.

Okimoto received his BA, MA and Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from UH-Manoa.

Randy Grune (DOT Deputy for Harbors) is Principal of Next Generation Consulting Company, providing business advice, strategic planning, and project management services. Until 2007, Grune was President & CEO of Hawaii Stevedores, Inc., where he worked for 16 years.

Grune, 54, began his career in land surveying and real estate development. He attended Iolani School, University of Colorado at Boulder, and received his MA in urban and regional planning from UH-Manoa.

Ford Fuchigami (DOT Deputy for Airports) has worked for 34 years in the Hospitality, Healthcare, and Laundry industries. He has extensive experience in contracting and procurement, business development, employee relations and operation management.

Fuchigami, 55, is a graduate of Damien Memorial School and the University of Hawaii Manoa with a bachelor’s in journalism.

Jadine Urasaki (DOT Deputy for CIP) is the Public Works Manager for the Department of Education Facilities Development Branch.

Urasaki, 41, has 17 years of administrative management and engineering experience in the private and public sectors. Majority of her work has been with capital improvement and special maintenance projects with the state Transportation Department.

Urasaki, who holds a BS in civil engineering from UH-Manoa, is a licensed professional civil engineer and an accredited professional in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Jeffrey T. Ono (Consumer Advocate) is a partner at the law firm of Galiher DeRobertis Ono, where he practices personal injury law, including product liability, pharmaceutical liability, asbestos, toxic tort, construction/industrial accidents, automobile accidents, and premises liability.

Ono, 55, practiced law previously at the firms of Burke, Sakai, McPheeters, Bordner & Gilardy, and Hamilton, Gibson, Nickelsen, Rush & Moore. He is a graduate of Kalani High School, the University of Hawaii Manoa, and University of Wisconsin Law School.

Gordon Ito has been the Insurance Commissioner since his appointment by then-Gov. Lingle in July 2010. Prior to his appointment, he served as the Chief Deputy Insurance Commissioner since 2000.

Ito served as supervising attorney for the Insurance Division from 1993 to 2000. He was in private practice before starting work at the Insurance Division. Ito graduated from UH-Manoa with a degree in finance and a law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law.

Mila Kaahanui (Office of Community Services) is a social worker and Filipino Civil Rights leader. She is a former Program Administrator for Immigrant and Refugee Services at the Office of Community Service.

Kaahanui was also Director of the Municipal Reference and Records Center for the City and County of Honolulu. She is a graduate of University of Hawaii, West Oahu, received her master’s of social work from UH Manoa, and is a past recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil Rights Award.

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